Happy birthday Ben! (Ben is my brother) Actually, today is my culture class professors' birthday as well. So.
Zum Geburtstag viel Gluck!
Zum Geburtstag viel Gluck!
Zum Geburtstag Ben and Klaas!
Zum Geburtstag viel Gluck!
Halloween isn't very big in Germany. I saw maybe three small children in costume, and I've only heard of one party. A few stores had decorations for sale, but that's about it. One wonders where children trick-or-treat. Not a terribly exciting night.
Except for the fact that my Dad will be here tomorrow! That's very exciting. We're going to do lots of fun stuff, and he's bringing me American gourmet (Ritz and Goldfish). Apparently Germans haven't discovered the tasty snack that smiles back until you bite its head off. It's quite sad.
Today was my eight hour day. Going into this semester, it looked like I was just going to have one day of classes. Well I thought that would be boring, so I added a Jewish Life in Eastern Europe class. Then we figured out that my schedule was wrong, and Finance meets on Monday and Tuesday. Couple that with my German conversation course and the English tutorials and all of a sudden I have class four days a week. And eight hours today.
I must say, I did have the best class today that I've had since we started real classes. In Jewish Life I got to explain the predator-prey cycle to Germans. I was relating it to soviet repression of Jewish pride. Then we got to illustrate it. It was quite fun. Alas, I must go do homework. For some reason if I write blogs from my computer they don't seem to post with several paragraphs. I don't care for that. Anyway.
Well. First off, Berlin is not as far away as I thought. It's only three and a half hours away by train, which is way cool. The first night we unpacked and walked around as a group as a way to get oriented. We ended up at a very cool Mexican restaurant (I miss you Teca!!!) for dinner and it was quite delicious. Then we walked around for a while more and eventually found our way back to the Hostel (which is entirely Douglas Adams' Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy). We decided to watch a movie as well, since it was relatively early. V for Vendetta. Still love it.
The next day (Friday) our Lehrer, Klaas, took us on a four hour walking tour of the city. We saw Checkpoint Charlie (I got a fake East Germany stamp in my passport... it was exciting) and we saw the Reichstag etc. The weather was pretty crappy all weekend-always just on the verge of rain- but it was still pretty nice. After the official tour ended, Ericka, Nick and I just wandered for another couple of hours, stopping at anything that looked interesting. Then I took a nap for a little bit before dinner. Around seven we went out for Italian. After that it really did start raining, but Ericka wanted to find a Salsa club, so we ended up walking way far across town. And never found what we were looking for. Apparently the 'Berlin Party Map' is a tad bit deceiving. It doesn't do a good job distinguishing between bars and clubs. Oh well. We did find a Ben and Jerry's. That was way cool. We came back and crashed in a major way.
The next day we planned to go to the Jewish Museum, which was really quite cool. There were no right angles anywhere in the building. Ceilings, walls and the floor all slanted in some way, and it was designed in the shape of a zig-zag. It was a pretty cool museum, though they glossed over some things in fairly major ways. Like the Holocaust. That got one corner of one zig in the zig-zag. Ericka and I both thought that we had missed something, so we each backtracked to see. Nope. They glossed over the Holocaust in the Jewish Museum. Oh well. After that we walked around for a while longer. We went to the Sony Center where there was a big party for Kinder Chocolates' 40th Anniversary, and to Legoland.
In the evening several of us, including Klaas, decided to go to a South African restaurant. Well, we got lost twice on the way (oops) and they couldn't seat us togerther anywhere but on couches (which was a little awkward to eat) and the wait was incredibly long. But it was some of the best food I have ever had. I got roast beef and vegetables, which included tomatoes, potatoes and Mangos. It was delicious! And the prices were pretty reasonable too. Maya was sitting next to me and she got pumpkin mango nut soup. That was really really good as well. And I tried antelope... all around, the food was amazing. I now need to go to South Africa. I got icecream at the end... it tasted like cake batter. Soooo good. It was such a perfect way to end the trip. I loved it. After that I came back and went to bed (it was like, midnight-thirty by the time we got back). Such a good trip.
Got an early start today. Kim Cressy (from the office of international education) sent me and Amanda packages, and we had to go to the office of international education here to pick them up. I was able to get several things straightened out there. My phone is now working again and I'll get my stipend tomorrow. Also, the academic director for IUSP was there, so I got to tell him in person that the schedule he gave me was wrong and that I ended up sitting through a very interesting lecture on growth and development (if only I understood more of the German) instead of my finance class. I've now missed three class sessions of Finance, and I'm stressing out about it.
I'd like to thank Kim for the package. It was very thoughtful. She sent candy and shells and used popcorn as packing peanuts. All this stuff and the school newspaper, which was... enlightening.
Same depressing exchange rate. On a positive side, my Dad is coming soon...
Now I know that this is a topic that is important to everyone. Is the Dewy Decimal System universal? I still have no idea. The library system... not so easy here. Each faculty has it's own library. If you want to check out a book, you have to go to the main library and tell a computer that you want it. Then you have to wait a few days while someone goes and finds it and reserves it for you. Students aren't allowed near the actual stacks. Only very special mole-people on skateboards are (or so I've been told).
If you just want to look at a book, you can go to whichever faculty library has it. I am now taking a Jewish Life in Eastern Europe class, and I have some reading to do before next week, so I went to the appropriate library (located on the 7th floor of a building that is charitably 30 minutes away from me) and had no idea what to do. So I talked to the nice guy at the desk, who told me that the book was not in the library. I think that he was spelling something wrong, because when I went and looked up the author and brought it back to him, he found it. So he wrote down the call number for me and told me that the book was one floor up. T-RU 135/1499. So I went to the T section. 10 minutes later, I had determined with relative certainty that the book was not there. So I went downstairs and asked him what the deal was. Apparently T stands for Territories, and RU means Russian. So look in the Russian section. Okay, fine. I looked in the Russian section. Still a nope. Turns out that Russian and Russian Territories are actually in different parts of the floor. Sheesh. After I finally found the book, I read for a little while and got hungry (well at least I can find the book again) so Amanda and I went for about the best pizza ever. It was excellent. A good day, all around. And tomorrow is the ball!!!!! Yay!!!!!
I'm too depressed to type it again.
Well, sorta. Let's consider that. After I finished my last blog and played around for a few more minutes (ate a pretzel and whatnot) I walked to class. It's really pretty here. Brisk, with the leaves changing and everything. Anyway, I get to class pretty early (especially since classes here that say that they start and end on the hour i.e. 2:00-4:00, actually go from quarter past to quarter to) and I wait around outside for a few minutes. And they're handing out free bags to all the econ people. The bags had business magazines and pens and paper in them. Gotta say, I like free stuff.
Anyway, I finally go into the lecture hall, which I think could fit all of Macon pretty comfortably, and find a seat. Well, half an hour or so later, people start walking out. Yes, the professor had ditched the first class of the semester. Apparently, that's pretty normal here, though, if I were teaching a class that met for six hours a day, I would probably try not to skip the first one. But that's just me.
So I went home for an hour or so and came back out for my Economic Policy class, which was in the same room. This time the professor did show up, and even came up to me and talked to me before class. I asked him if he spoke English, and he figured out that I'm the "special" one in his class. He seemed like a pretty nice guy. I was in over my head in that class. Somehow in nine weeks of intensive German I missed the crucial words for Economic Policy. Almost seems a little bit predictable. I was supposed to find my tutor somehow yesterday, so I waited around for a little bit, but none of the 150 or so other students looked particularly likely, and no one came up to me, so I left. Hopefully, tomorrow I can get his/her email address from Klaas, who is the academic director of the IUSP program.
1 Euro = $1.42
$1.00 = .69 Euro
This is depressing.
Well, today is the big day. It started with the second half of my
language class test and will continue with all my other classes.
Just to put everyones mind at ease, I did pass my German language
class. Yay! I got an 81 on the written part and an 84 on
the spoken part. It could have been better, but I didn't study at
all, figuring that I would do relatively well and that the grades don't
factor into my GPA at home. I think that I did relatively well,
so I'm not complaining.
Now for the fun part. In roughly 48 minutes I begin my Finance
class. In German. Then I have a brief break before my
Economic Policy class. In German. Then I have no break
before four more hours of Finance. Still in German. I am
going to be so brain dead at the end of the day that it will probably
take at least two of my six days off to recover. Once again, I'm
I am trying to add another class though. I don't have a ton of
options, unfortunately, so we'll see what happens. It would be
nice to knock out another requirement while I'm here. We shall
And now for the best news ever! I have the internet in my
room! Thank you Amanda! No more half-hour commutes to the
library in order to check my email. Score!
I have now reached (and passed) the half-way point of my stay in
Marburg, Germany. So I thought that I would do a review of what I
like and don't like so far. Those are always amusing.
Pretzels! Getting mail. Learning German. Free time. Bakeries. Living in
an apartment without a meal plan. Traveling all over the
place. Sweden. My new friends. Ballet flats (in all
the colors of the rainbow). Cheap air-fare. Busses.
Wildflowers. Gelati. Trains. Churches.
The exchange rate. The lack of syllabi. The lack of one-stop shopping
(but I'm getting over that one). Trying to communicate and organize
things in the US over email. the time difference. No
personal internet. Spelling. Graffiti.
Alright, obviously I have more of both, but I'm okay with accepting
those lists and moving on to what's been going on lately. This is
my last week of German language class and German Culture class,
although I think that I will enroll in another language class if I can
find one that doesn't conflict with my schedule too much.
Speaking of my schedule, a few posts ago I mentioned that I had class
one day a week. Well, I thought that I could probably handle a
little bit more (well I could probably handle a few days more, but
that's not really an option) so I will be adding another class, Roman
Portraits. Now I'll have class on Monday and Tuesday. Ooh
la la. It looks like Roman Portraits might fufill part of my
art/literature requirement though, so I'm not about to complain (yet...
we'll see what happens when I start the class).
Tomorrow is my language test, so I'm going to go study with Ericka,
Nick and Jessica tonight. Beyond that, I'm going to take a nap this
afternoon, since we don't have culture class today. No complaints on that one either.
$1= € .70
Did I mention that I dislike the exchange rate? Good.
It was 3:00 in the morning and my alarm was ringing. I'm not
going to lie, it's really hard to get out of a warm bed that early in
order to sit on a train for five hours. But I did. When I
got to the train station, about half of the group was already there
(one girl was already completely wasted from the party she had just
left) and we had to wait outside because the train station doors didn't
open until 4:00. It was fun. And cold.
Most of us were able to sleep on the train (well, except for the drunk
girl, who was busy throwing up, and the three guys who decided to start
drinking then) and the ride went pretty quickly. We got to Münich
around 10:00 and headed to Oktoberfest, which was set just outside of
the city. I slipped and fell on a tomato. It was pretty
Oktoberfest is a lot like a state fair or a carnival. Except for
the 12 or 14 giant buildings dedicated to beer, they have the same
rides and games and all that fun stuff. So our group picked a
tent and got in line to wait. Well, someone bumped me really hard
and then said 'Sorry.' It took me a second, but I finally figured
out that Sorry is not actually German, so I turned around and started
talking to the girl behind me.
She seemed pretty nice, and at one point commented on my RA sweatshirt,
saying that she too was an RA. We were in line for another half
hour or so, and after a while it was really warm, so I took off my
sweatshirt, and I was wearing an Alpha Gam shirt under it. Turns
out that this girl is an Alpha Gam too. After we commented on how
small the world was, she said that she hadn't been as active with Alpha
Gam lately because she had a position in her Community Service
Fraternity. APO. Which I'm also in. And we both went
to the National Convention in Louisville last January. It was way
Anyway, we finally got into the building, only to find that there was
(predictably) no where to sit and an incredible amount of smoke
everywhere. So Ericka, Nick, Alex and I decided not to stay too
long. It was really cool to be there, but we wanted to see the
rest of Oktoberfest and Münich as well.
Between Oktoberfest and exploring Münich, we probably walked around for
around eight hours. It's a really nice city - pretty clean and
things were easy to find. The food was really good too, and they had
giant pretzels (I was soo happy). But we couldn't leave Münich
until 8:30 because of our group tickets. So we went to see
Ratatouille in German. It was so much fun, and movies for kids
are right about at my German level. Well... they're still ahead
of me, but these were some pretty expressive rats, so we had a pretty
good idea of what was going on.
Overall, Münich was really fun. The five hour ride home with all
the loud drunk people, not so much, but it averaged out to be a really
good day. Walking around with Ericka, Nick and Alex was great,
and it will be so much fun to go to Barcelona with them. Quite
smashing. And I don't just mean all the beer bottles that broke
on the train.
I'm going to Spain! I just booked tickets and the hostel yesterday, and it is going to be incredibly cheap. I'm going with two of the other people in my program, Ericka and Nick, and we're staying for four nights in Barcelona. Round trip plane tickets were .02 euro plus taxes, so around 25 euro total. The hostel is 17.50 euro per night, so the entire trip is going to start at around 110 euro. Then we add food and presents and whatnot, and this is still way cheap. It's amazing.
Tonight I hung out with Ericka in Studentindorf, which is the dorm that's about as far away from mine as it's possible to be. She is a Mormon, and she was cooking for some of the missionaries here in Marburg, so I came and helped. We had tacos and nachos and cookies. It was sooo much fun, and really yummy.
And my dad is coming to Germany!!! For the first weekend in November. I'm so excited. Tomorrow is Oktoberfest, and I'm excited about that too. Things are just going pretty well in general.
Approximately nine and a half hours after leaving our hotel in Milan
(at 4:00 in the morning), Amanda and I arrived safely home at our
dorm. This means that not once did we go to the wrong airport,
get on the wrong train, miss the bus, or do any other semi-stupid
things. Clearly our trip planning skills are improving by leaps
On Saturday in Milan we got up and went to this giant
marketplace. They had everything there. It was like going
to Chinatown in New York, except that everything was in tents that were
in quite close proximity to one another and on both sides of an
aisle. So it was very difficult to move. We managed it
though, and came back with some very cool stuff (most of it is
presents, so I won't elaborate). After more pizza, we headed to
the castle in Milan, where we were accosted by fake-purse
salespeople. Since purses were the one thing that we were really
keeping our eyes out for but had been unable to find, we were
thrilled. I bought a black 'Prada' for 20€. Not too
bad, considering that the starting price was 75€. The castle was
pretty cool, but by the time we were done with it, we were both pretty
exhausted. So we ate dinner and called it a relatively early
Tomorrow is the Day of German Unity, which is when the Berlin Wall fell
and East and West Germany were reunited. The treaty to ratify
wasn't signed until December, but we'll overlook that. Most
people have class off tomorrow, but not me. Since we are still
able to get into the building, we're having class. A concession
was made however; Andres has said that we can have a party. So
later on, I'm baking a cake for the party. Right now, I'm going
to culture class to learn more about Germany today.
I'm not sure if I will be able to blog again for a few days, so if I can't, Happy Birthday Mom!!!